Category Archives: Dynamics 365

The Navision DNA

The Dynamics NAV world is going through a lot of changes these days.  And it got me thinking: What’s it about NAV that is so unique, what is the DNA of NAV’s big success?

To answer this, we have to take a stroll down memory lane and go back to the birth of Navision.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6f/Personal_System_2_Series_of_Computers.png

We are in the mid-late 80’ties, IBM is about to introduce their new PS/2 computers, running OS/2 with Token Ring networking. In Denmark, they wanted to have a multi-user accounting software to go with their new shiny machines. The options that were available for them, from the US, was not up to par with currency support and other things needed to work in Denmark. So they turned to look at the Danish market. They found a very successful accounting system called PCPLUS.

PCLUS was created by three young guys right out of university and it worked very well, but PCPLUS was a single user system. So IBM approached PC&C and asked if they could make a multi-user version for them. The result was IBM-Navigator 1.0

IBM-Navigator was a huge success, it ran as a true client-server application, with its own database engine. As a result of the success, users started to ask IBM about different changes, from report layouts, new fields in the database to import and exports. IBM went back to PC&C and asked for the ability to make changes. Over the course of version 1.0 to 2.12, IBM-Navigator gained a moderate customization interface, a classic customization interface. Great, but customers and IBM wanted more.

The result was IBM-Navigator 3.00 – PC&C had added a compiler and a runtime environment, rewritten the entire “ERP” application in its own language. In August 1990, this was a revolution, an ERP system where partners and customer have access to customize the entire application, add whole new modules and functions. All contained inside a smooth running platform. And all this delivered on a couple of 1,44MB diskettes.

To become a IBM-Navigator reseller at this point, you needed to be a IBM Business Center, and for that, you needed employees certified for Navigator, both sales and technical. The certification was done through a 7 week curse at IBM, no exceptions. The participants at these curses are still the backbone of the Danish NAV reseller network. The result was partners that focused almost exclusively on IBM-Navigator.

Now fast forward to 2017. Today we have an ERP system where partners and customers have access to customize the entire application, add whole new modules and functions. All contained inside a smooth running platform.

The platform has been updated numerous times. The application has expanded with several new modules and new functionality all over the application.

An eco-system of thousands of companies creating add-ons, modules, ISV verticals, and integrations has grown over the last 27 years. Many with direct connection and history back to August 1990.  Most of these partners are 100% dedicated to NAV, that is their primary product, they may sell others services, software, and hardware, but all are related and tied into NAV.

This concept from 1990 has even gone to the cloud with Dynamics 365, without partners needing to start over or invest massively.

All thanks to the ability to customize everything, and thanks to the cleverness, stability, and smoothness of the application and platform, all delivered though a dedicated partner network:
That’s the DNA of Dynamics NAV.

Impressions from Directions NA

That’s it; I’m on my way home from Orlando and Directions NA 2017.

And what a rollercoaster ride it has been, I’m not talking about our trip Tuesday to Universal Studio and riding The Mummy. No, I’m talking about all the confusion about Dynamics 365 “Tenerife”. I know I usually write about technical stuff, but this was an exception conference, and sometimes you’ll need an exception handler 🙂 (Some people will get that joke)

Bombshell #1 – We’re not getting a NAV2018 this fall. After the first keynote, we got no information on the coming release of “NAV2018”, strange?
And after the second day keynote is was clear, that a release was not close, not even close, “Spring 2018” was the GA date? That’s 7-8 months from now. The yearly frequency has delivered since 2013 and partners are planning and depending on this. Not getting a release means that partners need to backtrack to customers and potentially will lose business.

Bombshell #2 – The product will no longer have a name. I’m kinda paraphrasing here. This is perhaps the one that confused people the most. Microsoft told us that the product would be a “white labeling” product. Meaning, that a partner should name the offering “Eriks Fantastic ERP Solution (Powered by Dynamics 365tm). This might work well for some ISVs who have their own IP and actually sell their IP under that name. But most partners sell “Microsoft Dynamics NAV“, a really strong brand that carries the long successful history of Navision and the power of the Microsoft Brand.

To add to the confusion, not really a bombshell, but just confusion, the messaging around OnPremise vs. hosting vs. a new term “Bring Your Own Base App” stirred the already shaken partners even more. When ever something says “You can run Tenerife on premise BUT“, partners get an eye tick. I think it’s the old “if you want people to understand one piece of information, don’t tell them two”.

On top of all this, the SL and GP partners, invited to the conference on the promise of a Dynamics 365 offering for their businesses got quite confused and concered about having something to sell.

All the good Mircosoft soldiers (I believe there were 56 of them) worked very hard the next few days to deliver the messages, and some of the bits got more clear (See my interview with Vincent Nicolas for his answers on some of the technical confusions)

One of the details that I didn’t catch until late Tuesday was that the current offering on Dynamics.com for a Dynamics 365 Business Edition trial goes away. This makes a lot of sense, the process of Microsoft handling the incoming leads has been difficult, and partners are having a hard time figuring out how to work with that.

Wednesday, at the end of the conference, Marko Perisic took the stage and did his best to address these issues and he acknowledged that they understand the impact of the two bombshells and they would work very hard on getting a release and get the branding issues fixed.

All this reminds me of the old saying “No plan survives first contact with reality“. I’m pretty sure that there are 56 Microsoft employees on their way back thinking about how to get this right.

I’m sure they will get it right, but man, this week has been a rollercoaster ride 🙂